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California lawmakers urge federal government to repeal Defense of Marriage Act

The California Senate voted 22-12 [roll call vote] Monday in favor of a joint resolution [AJR 19 text; materials] to urge the federal government to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. Among other concerns, the resolution states that, under the law, same-sex couples legally married in the state are prevented from accessing the federal rights and benefits afforded to opposite-sex spouses, including the right to sponsor a spouse for immigration, the right to Social Security survivors benefits, the right to health insurance from a spouse who is federally employed and the right to jointly file income taxes. Additionally, the resolution raises the concern that workers in the state must pay federal income taxes on any health benefits provided to a same-sex spouse while benefits conferred to opposite-sex spouses are not taxed.

Although introduced in the California legislature last year, the passage of the resolution follows the recent ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional. Last month, the DOMA was struck down [JURIST report] by a Massachusetts federal judge in two separate cases. In one case, Judge Joseph Tauro held that the DOMA violated the principles of equal protection [opinion, PDF] embodied in the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause as a matter of law In the other case, Judge Tauro found [opinion, PDF] that the DOMA violates states' Tenth Amendment right to define marriage.

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